Susan Schwebach was a 60 year old woman who was working as a county recorder when she was diagnosed with kidney cancer. Her hobbies are reading and watching her son car race. She originally was having back pain and went to the doctor for a check up. She was diagnosed with Kidney Cancer less than a year ago and her initial reactions were disbelief and fear. Sue had a very challenging case, her right kidney was completely replaced by tumor and the whole thing needed to come out.
Most people can live with one kidney no problem. BUT, Sue had several enlarged lymph nodes and two or three of them completely encased the only blood vessel coming out of her left kidney, which was actually located in her pelvis! Therefore there was a risk that in removing the kidney cancer from her right side, the left kidney’s blood supply might be involved and she may end up loosing both kidneys in one surgery and end up on dialysis. In this difficult time, her husband, family, were her biggest supporters. She initially saw a great team of doctors in Lacrosse, Wisconsin including Dr. John Schomberg.
After discussions with the medical oncology team and doctors at the University of Minnesota, it was agreed to pursue systemic therapy first to try and shrink the tumor and lymph nodes. She did get treated with drugs for several months, but the tumors kept growing and the concern was even greater that the lymph nodes may just choke off the left kidney.
It was decided to remove the right kidney and lymph nodes and be prepared to transplant the left kidney if the blood vessels were involved in the cancer. Susan was amazed how Dr. Weight was able to put together a multi-disciplinary surgical team to safely carry out her surgery. She was particularly shocked how they were able to remove the cancerous kidney and spare her other functioning kidney even though it was surrounded by cancer and not located in the proper place. She is recovered and feeling much better and anxiously awaiting upcoming scans.